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Boris Johnson is making an announcement at 5pm today

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Prime minister Boris Johnson is set to hold a press conference tonight at 5pm.

It is expected, in his address to the nation, that Johnson will reveal the latest statistics regarding vaccinations, including the news that the Oxford vaccine can stop transmission by up to two-thirds.

Scientists at Oxford University have revealed that the rollout of vaccines across the country could have already started to stop the virus spreading.

They found that there was a 67% drop in positive swabs among those who have been vaccinated.

Number 10/Flickr

This means those vaccinated have protection from catching the virus and therefore passing it on, as well as also being less likely to get a severe case or die. 

A Tory minister told The Sun: “This is the news we have all been waiting for.

“At last. If this data is correct today will be seen as the turning point in this whole pandemic.”

The prime minister is also expected to pay tribute to Captain Sir Tom Moore who died on Tuesday at 100-years-old. 

Number 10/Flickr

Earlier today, Priti Patel said she was ‘concerned’ over the lack of uptake in the vaccine by minority communities. 

She said: “I’m here today at the Neasden Temple because the Temple have used their school buildings to set up a vaccination site, hear in Neasden, in Brent to really get that message out to the local community and to ethnic groups, different ethnic groups around here, but also around the country – please take the vaccine.

“I am concerned, we are all concerned, as we’re hearing messages of misinformation, disinformation associated with the vaccine, and I’ve had the complete privilege today to see people locally come in at this vaccine centre to be vaccinated.

“I’ve met the heroic workers the people on the front line, members of the NHS, members of the army but also volunteers from this temple as well, that are bringing people in to get vaccinated.”

She added: “My message is really, really clear. Take the vaccine, once it gets offered to you. Please take it, it can save your life and it’ll save the lives of others.”

Number 10/Flickr

Boris is also due to reveal the ‘phased’ route out of lockdown on February 22nd.

A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “These findings are exactly what we need. It’s looking good for schools returning in March, shops reopening in April.”

Another senior Government source added: “We hope it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools from March 8th, with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter as and when the data permit.”

Matt Hancock hailed the news of the Oxford studies this morning but added that it was too early to lift any lockdown rules as there are still 30,000 people in hospital with the virus. 

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Three UK supermarkets to continue enforcing face mask policies in-store

All Plan B restrictions have been eased as of today

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Morrisons & Nickolas Romensky / Flickr

Three of the UK’s leading supermarkets will continue to enforce their face mask policies despite all Plan B restrictions coming to an end today.

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose – which also operates retailer John Lewis – will ask their customers to continue wearing masks in their stores, even though they are no longer mandatory.

Sainsbury’s said in a statement: “Safety remains our highest priority. We’re asking our customers and colleagues in England to continue to wear a face covering in our stores if they are able to.”

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A spokeswoman for John Lewis and Partners said: “We’ll be suggesting people wear masks in our stores, although it will be down to individuals to make a personal choice.”

According to The Mirror, Paddy Lillis, the head of shop workers’ union Usdaw, voiced his support for the supermarkets’ decision, saying it was ‘deeply disappointing that the government has ploughed on with ending mandatory face coverings in shops’ and that many retailers would ‘keep Covid safety measures in stores’.

Manchester City Council has also asked people to continue wearing masks in public spaces and on public transport in what they have described as a ‘pragmatic approach’.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing face coverings in corridors until the February half term.

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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Some Covid restrictions to stay in place in Manchester, council says

All Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted today

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Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

As the majority of Plan B Covid restrictions are lifted, Manchester’s public health director has said some will be staying in place across the city.

In what has been described as a ‘pragmatic approach’, Manchester City Council is asking people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces and on public transport.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing masks in corridors until the February half term.

David Regan, Manchester’s public health director, said keeping some measures in place should ‘limit the onward transmission’ of Covid.

@circlz / Unsplash

He said there had been a ‘good dialogue’ with the city’s universities and that schools had been ‘really receptive’ to the advice. 

Regan explained: “If our primary school children are affected and it goes back into the household, that affects our health and social care workforce.

Deputy council leader Joanna Midgley supported Regan’s stance on the matter, saying the pandemic ‘was not over’ and said there were vulnerable people who ‘needed to be looked after’.

She said: “As the restrictions end, as a city we want to try and encourage people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces on public transport and to get that message across about looking out for each other, caring about each other.”

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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GMP confiscates and burns 173kg of cannabis following raid on weed farm

The cannabis farm contained drugs with an estimated value of £750k

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GMP Manchester North / Facebook

Greater Manchester Police officers have burned huge bags of cannabis after plants growing the Class B drug were discovered at a weed farm in Manchester.

Officers raided the property in Cheetham Hill earlier this week on January 24th, where they discovered a cannabis farm containing drugs worth an estimated £750k. 

Yesterday, 173kg of the plants – the equivalent of five German Shepherds, according to the force – were bagged up and burned through an incinerator.

GMP shared images of the farm onto the GMP Manchester North Facebook page, writing: “Tonight we have executed a warrant in #Cheetham and found a large cannabis farm with an estimated £750k worth of drugs.

“If anyone has any information please pass it to us so we can continue taking drugs from the streets.”

The force then shared an update yesterday regarding the burning of the plants, showing photos of police vans overflowing with bags of cannabis plants alongside the caption: “We have now dismantled the cannabis farm in #Cheetham and 173kg of cannabis has been burnt at the incinerator!

“That’s the equivalent of 5 German Shepherds! Our van was filled!”

This comes just weeks after North West Motorway Police seized £300k worth of laundered money during a routine stop check.

During the search, Regional Commercial Vehicle Unit and MO24 officers found a bag containing the cash in the boot, something that the driver ‘couldn’t account for’. 

The cash was subsequently seized and the driver was arrested. 

Reports involving drugs or other anti-social behaviour can be made to police online or by calling 101.

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